Glover 2 for the N64, was the first game that I ever worked on, after being hired by Interactive Studios Ltd (ISL) for my first job as a programmer. I started in January of 1999 and my main role was working on tools (3DS Max export/import, Level Editor) and whipping boy for the game. By the time October had rolled around that year, the game had been canned. Our publisher, Hasbro Interactive, had ditched the project.
Why was this? Well…we have to look back to the first game which was developed before I joined ISL. The reason for this, is that as far as we were told, Glover 2 had been canned because of Glover 1. Now this seems strange, because the first Glover has sold fairly well for a non-Nintendo N64 title. And it was on the back of those sales that Glover 2 had been given the go-ahead at Hasbro in the first place.
But Hasbro had messed up. They had screwed the pooch big time. You see, when ordering the carts for the first game, the standard production run was something like 150,000 units. And this is what the management at ISL had advised Hasbro to order – because the N64 wasn’t really fairing that well compared to the PS1 at the time and non Nintendo titles tended to sell poorly. They thought that Glover was a good game in its own right, and a moderate 3rd party success would sell around 150,000 units. And that is exactly what happened. Hence the go ahead for the sequel.
So Glover was a money maker for Hasbro, right? Right? Nuh-uh. As it happened, Nintendo had a special on N64 carts at the time the game was being schedule for production. Some bright spark at Hasbro thought it would just be absolutely SUPER to order double the normal amount – so they put in an order 300,000 units at a slightly reduced cost.
The problem was that none of the retailers wanted to take that stock off Hasbro’s hands. The game had been moderately successful, but the demand just wasn’t there. And thus Hasbro was left with 150,000 or so copies of Glover for the N64 that nobody wanted. That’s something like half-a-million dollars worth of stock that they can’t shift. And with Hasbro Interactive not being in the best of financial shape Glover became a dirty word around the company, as it became apparent over the course of Glover 2 development that they were stuck with all those carts.
Of course, the blame was put on the game and brand itself rather than the idiot who ordered the extra 150,000 carts from Nintendo. And that ladies and gentlemen, is why Glover 2 had been cancelled.
I can still remember the day the cancellation was reported to us. Our external producer from Hasbro actually came to break the news to the Oliver twins and to us, in person. Phil Oliver, a man I have undying respect for, gave our team lead a budget and instructed him to take us out for a few drinks. For me the hit wasn’t so bad. I figured this was part of the learning experience, and cancellations happen after all. So here I was learning the stark realities of game development. But for most of the team this was an unexpected end to more than two, almost three years of work. Subsequently, they were hit pretty hard by the news and I remember lots of long faces around the small table we occupied in the pub.
We (and by we, I mean the bosses..but we’re all in this together, right?) entertained the idea of re-skinning the game, but that plan was abandoned pretty quickly. I was still pretty busy though. I had been working on two other games while working on Glover 2, as they used the level editor that I had inherited from the original author. As such I was able to swallow down any disappointment that I had and focus on supporting them.
After that was all done, I was moved on to the team who had been picked to handle the development of the game for Chicken Run. And boy, were there a few stories behind that.